In "Neverending Battle," the third episode of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman's first season, The Daily Planet staff is assigned to learn more about Superman. Lex Luthor (JOHN SHEA) threatens to cause an endless succession of disasters in Metropolis to prove that Superman can't save everyone simultaneously. To protect innocent lives, Clark (DEAN CAIN) vows never to transform into Superman again.
That's a heck of an official synopsis, though, since Clark does no such thing until about the last ten minutes of the episode, so that pretty much blows a lot of the suspense.
Then again, the episode is about 20 years old, so what do we care?
More Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman: The Ten Best Episodes / Supergirl Reused a Lois & Clark location / Celebrating Christmas with Lois & Clark / Easter eggs in the Pilot / Easter Eggs in "Strange Visitor (From Another Planet)" / Easter Eggs in "Season's Greedings"
Anyway, in our stroll down memory lane, this week we're checking out "Neverending Battle," to look for the Easter eggs, DC Comics references, and other fun stuff you might have missed.
Like the previous episode ("Strange Visitor"), Lois & Clark's third episode is named for a part of the voiceover monologue from The Adventures of Superman. On radio and TV, fans had for years known that Superman "fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way."
THE SKETCH ARTIST
Maybe it's just us, but the reddish-brown hair and graying beard, that jacket...the sketch artist who's drawing Superman at the beginning of the episode looks a bit like John Byrne, the superstar artist who rebooted the Last Son of Krypton ten years before this with The Man of Steel.
Craig Byrne from KSite, who covered Lois & Clark at the time and not long ago did a "ten best episodes" list for Comicbook.com, suggests it's unlikely that the producers were referencing Byrne, but possible. We reached out to an individual who would know -- but whose name we can't use -- and were told it's very unlikely that it had anything to do with Byrne.
In any event, if we saw it, it's likely somebody else saw it, so we're counting it just in case it was intentional.
Also worth noting: Because Dean Cain has brown eyes, so does Superman (on the show and in the sketch). He's traditionally depicted as having blue eyes, and while that's occasionally not true on the screen, seeing the brown eyes in the drawing was a bit off-putting.
Tony Jay, who appears in the episode as Nigel St. John, is a veteran of comic book voice work. He's played Baron Mordo in Spider-Man cartoons, OverLord on Savage Dragon, and Lord Dregg on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles after his Lois and Clark appearance. Before this, he voiced Sul-Van in Superman: The Last Son of Krypton, and both Galactus and Terrax on Fantastic Four.
He also played Dougie Milford on Twin Peaks -- the character that much of The Secret History of Twin Peaks, a novel recently released and expected to tie into the events of the show's forthcoming third season on Showtime.
The apartment at 344 Clinton St. is the one Clark lived in from (if we remember correctly) 1961 until he was married to Lois in 1997 in the comics.
Seeing it make its appearance here was interesting, especially since there was never (that we can recall) a story about how he first acquired the apartment in the comics. After his apparent death (when Superman died fighting Doomsday), fellow Daily Planet reporter Ron Troupe helped clear the space out, and it was briefly rented to Rex Leech, an agent who represented the then-new Superboy. After Superman returned from the dead, Superboy moved to Hawaii, conveniently vacating the premises for Clark to return.
LEAP TALL BUILDINGS IN A SINGLE BOUND...
This episode is just full of using all the fun phrases that are associated with Superman's mythology. Early on, Lex suggests that Superman could "leap tall buildings in a single bound; he suggests that Superman might be "more powerful than a locomotive." Later, "Faster than a speeding bullet." Finally, after Superman survives the bomb blast, Lex calls him "a man of steel."
The "Lexor Hotel" just sounds like another of Lex's many attempts at putting his name on stuff. Likely, for the purposes of the show's writers, it was a riff on the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.
But whether intentionally or not, they also managed to reference a Silver Age story in which Lex becomes the hero of a world where science had become essentially forgotten. He taught them how to understand the fundamentals again and to use the information to make their lives better. Long after he left, they named the world Lexor in his honor.
When "Grover Cleveland" comes to the Planet to give some information about Superman, and Lois steals the story, he references The Metropolis Star, suggesting that if he's ignored then he'll take the story to the competing paper.
The Star at one point employed Toby Raynes, the woman who was depicted as the first on-the-page girlfriend to Maggie Sawyer, currently appearing on Supergirl.
Schwartz is not an uncommon last name, so it's entirely possible that Perry's calling over a reporter by that name was not a reference at all -- but including someone who shares a last name with iconic DC editor Julius Schwartz in the same spiel where Perry references both Mike Carlin and Jerry Ordway seems like it's pretty much a guarantee that the scene was paying homage to three comic book greats, not two and a coincidence.
THE CARLIN BUILDING
The Carlin Building, one of the places where Lex tries to lure Superman, is named for longtime Superman group editor Mike Carlin, who helped to chart the creative direction of most of the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, pre-Infinite Crisis era of Superman. Currently, he's working with DC in Burbank as the creative director for animation.
As seen above, Carlin -- sometimes referred to as "The Great Carlini" -- also inspired an Easter egg in the series' pilot.
3rd & ORDWAY
Where is the Carlin Building located? According to Perry White, it's at "3rd and Ordway."
Jerry Ordway is a writer and artist who worked on the Superman titles from 1986 until 1994. He was instrumental in making the reboot feel like it was about more than just getting superstar John Byrne away from Marvel, and both his writing and art would define the character for a generation of fans after he stayed on long after Byrne left and helped to ease the transition between the first group of post-Crisis on Infinite Earths creators and the larger team (including Jon Bogdanove, Louise Simonson, and Dan Jurgens) who would come to shape his adventures for the following decade or so.
During the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths era of Superman, his capes were constantly being shredded in battle. They weren't Kryptonian fabric or anything particularly sturdy, but plain cloth capes sewn by Ma Kent -- and we get a little nod to that here.
Clark also references that they're "still working on it," which is likely a nod to the fact that the show continuously tweaked the costume throughout the first season, trying to improve the character's look for TV.
Monique Kahn is likely named in honor of Jenette Kahn, who ran DC in various capacities from 1976 until 2002, usually as president (she was briefly publisher, then president & publisher, then president & editor-in-chief).
GOLDEN AGE LOGO
The logo that Lois is doodling on a legal pad at one point in the episode is reminiscent of one of the earliest takes on the Superman logo -- not unlike the one seen in the beloved Fleischer cartoons in the '40s.
"THE IDEA OF SUPERMAN"
The idea that Superman "can't be everywhere at once," and the way it pains him to know that he can't do everything for everybody, is a key element of the character's personality.
It gives him pathos -- one of the few things that traditionally does since by nature of superhero storytelling he's functionally unbeatable and, as Lex notes in the episode, he's relentlessly good.
We pointed this out in the second episode, but it's worth mentioning again.
Why? Because it's a whole lot clearer in this episode.
There's a newspaper on the back wall with the headline "Invasion!", like a reference to the 1988 DC Comics event in which The Dominators led an alliance of aggressive alien races to attack Earth. The tale was loosely adapted into the "Invasion!" crossover event on The CW earlier this month.
With only the one reference and a lot going on in between, it could be easy to miss the "Godzilla" reference, which left that last joke a little flat.
Early in the episode, when Clark says that somebody needs to teach Lois a lesson, Jimmy suggests, "Yeah, but who? Godzilla?"
Hence the Godzilla toy with a Superman "S" and red briefs on that Clark left at the end of her wild goose chase.